A dollop of this staple adds a welcome bite to sharpen and
season many a savoury dish.
Fresh hero ingredients are key to a great meal, but don't underestimate the importance of the oft-overlooked items in your pantry that bring a whole world of flavour to the table. One of our favourite family of food items is condiments. A dollop of great relish, a squeeze of spicy sriracha or a few cornichons, for instance, can give a lift to a ho-hum meal.
Dijon mustard is one of our favourites. With its unique flavour and mellow spice, it adds zing to all manner of dishes, via a vinaigrette for a crisp salad, say, or by adding extra kick to a shop-bought mayo. Brush it over a chicken before roasting it, and stir a spoonful into the pan juices afterwards with a splash of dry white wine and a little stock to make a tasty gravy. Slather it over roast beef tenderloin and, of course, serve the beef with a jar of Dijon on the table. Perhaps our favourite is the cheat's schnitzel: in lieu of egging and flouring, the mustard brushed over the meat acts as the glue for the breadcrumbs.
The ultimate pantry staple, mustard can last for two or three years unopened and for up to a year in the fridge once it's opened.
Herb and mustard-crusted beef tenderloin
Preheat oven to 220C. Place an 800gm piece of beef tenderloin (at room temperature) on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Brush with 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, drizzle with olive oil and season. Roast until cooked to your liking (10-15 minutes for medium-rare), then rest for 10 minutes. Finely chop ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, ¼ cup oregano and 1 tbsp thyme and combine in a bowl with the finely grated rind of 1 lemon. When the beef is rested, gently pat dry with paper towels, brush beef thickly with 2 tbsp Dijon mustard. Roll in herbs, and press to coat well, slice thickly and serve (the potato salad and green beans here would make excellent accompaniments.
Potato salad with mustard dressing
Serves 4 as a side
Cook 800gm halved chat potatoes in boiling salted water until tender (15-18 minutes). Drain. Shake 50ml extra-virgin olive oil, 1½ tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, juice of ½ lemon (or to taste) and 1 finely chopped garlic clove in a jar and season. Pour dressing over warm potatoes, add 2 thinly sliced golden shallots and toss to combine. Refrigerate to cool, then stir in 2 tbsp each crème fraîche and mayonnaise, and a handful each of chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint and dill.
Cheat's chicken schnitzel
Combine 150gm coarse sourdough breadcrumbs in a bowl with 1 tbsp finely chopped thyme and the finely grated rind of 1 lemon, season to taste and set aside. Halve 2 chicken breast fillets horizontally to form thin pieces, then pound each between sheets of baking paper until about 3mm thick. Brush each piece thickly with Dijon mustard, then press into the breadcrumb mixture to coat evenly. Place on a tray and refrigerate until required (this can be done a day ahead) or use straight away. Heat 1½ tbsp olive oil and 20gm butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until butter foams, add half the chicken pieces and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown (3-4 minutes). Transfer to a plate, wipe out pan with paper towels and repeat. Serve hot with extra Dijon mustard, a crisp green salad and lemon wedges.
Green beans in mustard-buttermilk dressing
Serves 4 as a side
Blanch 400gm trimmed baby green beans until tender and bright green (2-3 minutes), drain and refresh. Shake off excess water, and transfer to a platter. Shake 70ml buttermilk, 30ml extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard and 1 tbsp Sherry vinegar in a jar to combine, drizzle over beans and serve scattered with coarsely chopped mint and thinly sliced spring onion.
+ Bacon and Dijon mustard are old friends, so anywhere you find one, consider adding the other, whether it's slathering a bacon sarnie with mustard or adding lardons to salad leaves dressed with a Dijon-based vinaigrette.
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